If you’re looking for a good place to spend the weekend, I’ve found the sweetest spot of all.
It’s in front of your TV, or your laptop or hand-held device, away from any source of sunlight or fresh air and watching The Good Place on Netflix.
The comedy series stars Kristen Bell (in her best role since Veronica Mars, and that is saying a lot) as Eleanor Shellstrop a woman who dies a slightly humiliating death (via a row of rogue shopping trolleys and some cheap margarita mix) and finds herself the Good Place, a Utopian like neighbourhood where only the very best humans who lived a good life on Earth are allowed in and allowed to spend eternity in pure bliss.
Listen: Laura Brodnik and Clare Stephens battle it out over The Good Place on The Binge. Is it the best or worst show on TV?
Upon arrival to the Good Place, Eleanor meets Michael (played pitch perfectly by Ted Danson) the creator of the neighbourhood, who praises the list of wonderful things she did for others during her life while a slideshow of her greatest memories is projected behind him. There’s just one teeny, tiny catch.
Those are not her memories, she was a horrible person during her mortal life and there has been a huge mistake.
To avoid ending up ion the Bad Place, a terrifying hell-hole where screams of horror and fear can be heard, Eleanor has to maintain her cover in this beautiful world and avoid her true identity being found out by her friendly yet nosey neighbours.
At first, the only person Eleanor lets in on her secret is her “soulmate”, a philosophy professor called Chidi (William Jackson Harper). Everyone in the Good Place is introduced to their soulmate as one of the many perks on offer, along with flying sessions, ice-cream cups filled with thousands of flavours and coffee cups that don’t leak, and Chidi is then tasked with trying to teach his fake life-partner how to be a better turn.
At first, the premise and the plot of The Good Place may seem a little hocky and “movie of the week” but the execution is actually quite sharp and fast paced. It takes a while to realise, but The Good Place is actually an old-school mystery wrapped up as a sitcom. The banter between the characters is entertaining and the situations they find themselves in lead to hilarity but soon you start to realise there’s a much darker plot-line at play and this “good place” may actually not be as good as it seems…
As much as this is a bit of a screwball comedy, (watching the horrible Eleanor fumble her way through trying to pass herself off as a good person is very entertaining) it also opens up a whole lot of other questions about life, death and where we go after we die.
Think about it and answer honestly. Would you end up in the Good Place.... or the Bad Place?
(On an unrelated note, I've given away all my worldly possessions and will spend the rest of my days wandering through train stations helping people top up their travel cards on those pesky machines that never seem to be in order.)
All 12 episodes of season one of The Good Place are now streaming on Netflix. Episodes of season two drop weekly. So enjoy a good time with The Good Place.
And as for that big twist at the end? Well, I''l just let you experience that for yourself.
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